Age of Anxiety – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim Woodrum

Job 38:1-11
Mark 4:35-41

In 1947, a friend of the composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein suggested that he write a piece of music based on W.H. Auden’s epic poem, “The Age of Anxiety.” Despite critics deeming the poem as Auden’s “one dull book, his one failure,” it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948. The poem’s subject is four strangers who meet in a New York bar during wartime and contemplate their lives and the human condition.[i] The title of the poem evokes a theme that permeates society, both ancient and modern: anxiety. Just saying the word can make your muscles tense up.

Two definitions of anxiety resonate deeply with me. First: “an apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill: a state of being anxious.” We’ve all experienced anxiety of this sort, say, before a job interview, exam, wedding, or while awaiting a medical diagnosis and its implications for our future. For me, I remember the anxiety of preparing a meal for thirty people for the first time, my first sermon, or getting the call that my father had suffered a fall while I was away on mission in Texas—a fall that ended his life. What is something that has caused you anxiety in recent memory? Read More

Sacred and Life-giving Words – Br. David Vryhof

Feast of St Matthew

Proverbs 3:1-6, II Timothy 3:14-17, Matthew 9:9-13.

We are remembering with gratitude today the evangelist Matthew, author of the first of the four gospels contained in the New Testament.  Matthew’s gospel was written to a Jewish-Christian audience and presents Jesus as the promised Messiah and King who has come to establish the reign of God upon earth.  Matthew quotes the Old Testament (or Hebrew scriptures) extensively, arguing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the ancient prophesies that spoke of the coming of the Messiah.

Matthew opens his gospel with this proposition that Jesus is the Messiah, noting the circumstances that surrounded his birth, and explaining their significance.  Then follow five sections, each containing narratives describing the words and actions of Jesus, and a block of Jesus’ teaching.  The teachings elaborate what the kingdom of heaven is, and describe how those who belong to that kingdom are to conduct themselves in the world.  The five sections bring to mind the five books of the law – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy —  all of which have been traditionally ascribed to Moses.  The comparison is intentional: Moses was the great teacher of the Old Testament and of Israel;  Jesus is the great teacher of the New Testament and of Christianity. Read More

Divine Provision – Br. Luke Ditewig

John 6:30-35

Bread is ordinary, daily, for most people necessary nourishment, and a key symbol of our salvation. Remember the unleavened bread of the Exodus. God delivered our ancestors from slavery in Egypt. Pushed out, they had to leave quickly, without time for their bread to rise or make other provisions. All they had was their daily dough, and they could not prepare it as they were accustomed. They had to leave “before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls wrapped up in their cloaks on their shoulders.”[i]

Remember manna in the wilderness. God provided ancient Israel with bread from heaven in the wilderness for forty years. Our parents asked: “What is it?” God said take a measure of this bread from heaven every morning. More will come tomorrow. Don’t hoard it. I will give you enough.[ii]

Remember earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus turned a few loaves and fish into a meal for thousands. Followed by a crowd, Jesus raised the question of how to feed them. The disciples said: “Six months wages would not buy enough bread.” Jesus said: “Make the people sit down. … Jesus gave thanks and distributed the food, … as much as they wanted.”[iii] Read More

Longing for Nourishment – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim Woodrum

1 Peter 2:2-10

Those of you who have had an opportunity to stay with us here at the monastery or have had an occasion to join us for a Sunday meal know that I am a foodie.  I enjoy cooking and eating all kinds of food, but most I most especially have a passion for southern cooking.  While I love living here in New England and jump at an occasion to enjoy a Lobster Roll or warm up with a bowl of chowder, one of the things that I miss the most are the tastes of home.  And so on the Sundays when I volunteer to cook lunch, I more often than not will cook food with a southern flair:  Chicken Fried Shortribs, a variety of greens wilted in a homemade bacon jam, and classic peach cobbler a la mode is just one of the many meals you may experience when I’m in the kitchen.  Read More